Discover the secret formula to skyrocketing album sales.


Step 5: Discover the secret formula that tells you exactly what your fans are expecting to hear in the lyrics of your songs, and blow them away!

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Discover your Uniqueness Factor
Discover your Uniqueness Factor

This is part 5 of 5 of how to discover your Uniqueness Factor.

Step 5: Discover the secret formula that tells you exactly what your fans are expecting to hear in the lyrics of your songs, and blow them away!

I've analyzed the lyrics of all the 82 songs of the seven studio albums of Placebo.

This analysis proved once again that the craft of telling captivating stories in songs or on albums truly matters in songwriting.

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Discover the secret formula to skyrocketing album sales.

So far, you've learned:

  1. How to analyse the lyrics of a song.
  2. What are the most important storytelling criteria that you need to pay attention to.
  3. How to compare your albums by creating infographics.
  4. How to find the storytelling criteria that influenced the factors of success

And now it's time to put everything you've analyzed together.

Info: Click on the graphics to enlarge them OR hit STRG/CONTROL together with + to increase the browser zoom level.

 

The final step to finding your Uniqueness Factor.

In order to find out what your Uniqueness Factor is, we need to know what your fans experience when they listen to your songs.

What are they used to? What is their expectation of what kind of songs they'll get?

Each musician/band has a unique signature to what their songs are about. And the Uniqueness Factor tells you exactly what your musical fingerprint is - concerning the lyrics of your songs.

 

1. Find your discography's average quota for each storytelling criterion to know what your fans expect.

So after completing all the previous steps, we have our main storytelling criteria (step 2) and we know how many songs of each of Placebo's studio albums fulfilled that criterion.

Now, for each criterion, we need to sum up all the songs that fulfilled that criterion and divide it by the number of songs.

For example:

22 of all the 29 single releases told a story or part of a story in the song. 22 divided by 29 is 76%.

30 of all the 53 album-only tracks told a story or part of a story in the song. 30 divided by 53 is 57%.

52 of all the 82 Placebo songs told a story or part of a story in the song. 52 divided by 82 is 63%.

And then:

  1. Calculate the average of each storytelling criterion for all the song categories - like I've shown you in the example above. 
  2. Create a new chart that lists all the storytelling criteria on the x-axis.
  3. Put in the results of each song category for each storytelling criteria into the graph and connect the dots.

Placebo Uniqueness Factor

 

This graph will show you what your fans expect you to deliver in your songs.

If you don't understand what the criteria refer to, read this article again: The storytelling criteria for writing great songs

That means:

  • Problem answered: value if the problem the character had to deal with is answered as much as it can be.
  • Helpful answer: But Placebo fans also know that the answer isn't always that helpful so that it can be taken as a guideline for one's own life.
  • Positive stage (external): Less than half of the time the character doesn't start at a positive level of what he WANTS. But single releases usually have a better starting point.
  • Obligatory Moment (external): The song refers to a moment that belongs to a certain kind of story genre in around two-thirds of the cases.
  • Convention (external): Same with the moments that refer to a certain kind of story genre, fans of Placebo also want the songs to include further details that point them to what the character WANTS.
  • Positive stage (internal): Around half of the time the character starts at a positive level of what he NEEDS.
  • Obligatory Moment (internal): The song refers to a moment that belongs to a certain kind of story genre in around two-thirds of the cases.
  • Convention (internal): Same with the moments that refer to a certain kind of story genre, fans of Placebo also want the songs to include further details that point them to what the character NEEDS.
  • A story is told in the song: A story can also be a scene/chapter of a larger story. We have a working scene/chapter when there's an unexpected event happening that turns the tables for better or worse. And the listeners expect that most of the songs are not just about a snapshot of time, but that show change.
  • Positive external value shift: If we consider how the character in the song starts off with what he WANTS (mostly at a bad place), it's even more important to see that the situation doesn't change for the better for him. But it gets even worse. Only in around 25% of the songs, the character was better off at the end of the song.
  • Positive internal value shift: Because the situation doesn't always turn out as the character WANTED, it's great to see that not everything is lost. The character at least gains in around 60% of the cases a better worldview, chose the moral path or acquired a better status.
  • Clear Message: Even though Placebo's songs have a lot of meaning between the lines, there's still a message we can take away from the song. And this is true for around 76% of the songs.
  • Likable protagonist: Most of the time, we have a protagonist who struggles to get what he WANTS, and most of the time, he's not successful. But at least in around half of the songs, we at least like the character.

 

2. Fill in the album's average quota for each storytelling criterion

Since the song categories don't take a different course compared to the entire album, we can use the average quota of the entire album as a point of reference.

So we take the same chart and now, instead of the song categories, we put in how each album fulfills every one of those criteria (average quota of each album for each criterion):

 

Placebo Infographic final albums average for each criterion

 

After filling in each album into our chart, we get a better picture of how much an album fulfilled the fans' expectations and in which cases it wasn't as satisfying as what the Placebo fans expected.

And we also see how many times an album fulfilled that criteria or surpassed it, and how many times it was below average.

 

3. For everyone who needs a little more order, you can also reorder the criteria:

Placebo Infographic Storytelling Criteria reordered

 

The grey background in graph 4.3 defines the average value of all the seven studio albums of Placebo.

The framed criteria are the storytelling criteria that have the largest impact on the success of the Placebo albums. The album that didn’t sell well (Loud Like Love) strayed the furthest from the average value.

 

Note: This is not a list of what criteria is more or less important. For example, Placebo fans want the story externally to not end happily. So the first criteria (positive external value shift) is as important as the last one. Just switch it around: in 75% of the songs, the fans expect that the story ends negatively.

This graphic just demonstrates what the expectations of the Placebo fans are. And which album fulfills those expectations more or less than others do. And the most relevant storytelling criteria (framed boxes) are also the ones that their best-selling album Sleeping With Ghosts is the closest to (closest to the average of the complete discography).

 

Placebo fans appreciate albums that are close to the average value of the storytelling criteria and that do not stray away from it.

In comparison to Loud Like Love, Meds at least follows the trajectory line and does not deviate from the path. Whereas Placebo and Without You I’m Nothing deviate from the path and are therefore less successful than Black Market Music and Sleeping with Ghosts.

 

Sleeping with Ghosts VS. Loud Like Love

Let's look closely at the most successful album Sleeping with Ghosts, and the one album that was least successful, Loud Like Love.

 

Placebo Sleeping with Ghosts and Loud Like Love

 

We know now that the average quota of each storytelling criteria of Placebo's discography is the analytical approach to understand what fans want to experience in the songs of Placebo.

Now in this special chart above, you can see the storytelling trajectory that fans are used to when it comes to Placebo’s songs (orange).

 

Sleeping With Ghosts is Placebo’s most sold album because it follows that trajectory without deviating from the path.

 

If you look at Loud Like Love, you can see that this album strays the furthest and takes on a completely different path of what fans were expecting of Placebo. And that is a reason why this album was their least successful one.

 

Here's an easy way to understand the Uniqueness Factor:

Imagine, what makes your lyrics unique is like an ascending line.

 

Imagine, you’re climbing a mountain.

You have waypoints along the way that are part of your journey and that you need to hit in order to reach your destination.

If you are clever you follow that path to get safely to your destination in time. You don’t want to make any detours. Because then you might get lost along the way, and never make it.

So by knowing all the parts of your uniqueness factor, you know the waypoints you need to hit to get to the top.

Those waypoints are the different storytelling criteria and their average across all the albums you’ve already released.

  • For example, there is the question of how many times a song ended with a helpful answer to the problem the character in the song dealt with. For Placebo, on average, it’s more than half of the songs.
  • So this is a waypoint for their new album: Give around 60% of their songs a helpful answer to the problem addressed in the lyrics.

 

Crucial Waypoints to get to the top

There are some criteria that are crucial for getting where you want to go - like the only bridge on that mountain that you need to cross in order to get closer to the top, and you need to pay attention to those milestones. They influence your success the most because that’s what your fans value the most about the lyrics of your songs.

Placebo’s most successful album, Sleeping with Ghosts, is the one album that hits those waypoints and follows the path to the top. To Success.

But the album Loud Like Love takes on a completely different path straying the furthest from what fans were used to. They don’t hit all the waypoints, and it makes one detour after another. It doesn’t follow an ascending line, but it’s going in zigzags. Up and Down. So you see, if you try to climb a mountain like this, you never get to the top.

Now if we get back into more detail, the most important storytelling criteria for Placebo is that the character doesn’t get to a happy end. He doesn’t get what he wants. He fails or loses something. The average value of all the albums is three-quarters. 75% where it all turns out bad.

On Sleeping with Ghosts 86% of the songs of the album showed this negative shift. So this album was even surpassing what fans wanted to hear about in the songs.

On the contrary, on ‘Loud like Love’ the numbers were completely reversed. 75% had a happy ending. That was clearly not what fans appreciated about the songs of Placebo.

By knowing the exact storytelling criteria that have the largest impact on the success of an album and by also knowing the uniqueness factor of a band, I can help them get as close as possible to delivering to their fans what they love the most about their lyrics.

 And ultimately, help them to get to the top. Follow the proven path. Stay unique.

 

The Uniqueness Factor

If you want to write an album that will satisfy your fans' expectations, then compare your most successful album to the average quota of each storytelling criterion.

You especially need to check if the album follows the course of the average quota - like Sleeping with Ghosts does. 

And every time the album is as close to the average as possible, consider this an indication for what your fans value to listen to in your songs. You can go back to your infographics and check if there might be a correlation between the albums and the chosen factors of success (Step 4).

If you look at the comparison between Sleeping With Ghosts and Loud Like Love above, you also see that Loud Like Love strays from the average of the criteria that we consider the most important.

 

So by knowing the average quota of your discography (= your fans' expectations) as well as the criteria that influence your sales the most (correlation to the chosen factor of success), you've found your Uniqueness Factor.

Placebo Uniqueness Factor

 

 

 

Now let's take our main factor of success into consideration: The European Album Sales.

If we take note of how many times an album 1. fulfilled and 2. did not stray more than 10% of the average, then we can create another chart:

 

Placebo Success Infographic

 

And now you can see exactly why every album sold as much as it did.

Because the craft of how to engage your listeners by using the craft of storytelling matters!

Lyrics play an important part in the success of a song or an album!

 

And when you've completed all five steps, you will know what makes your songs and albums so unique.

You will know your musical fingerprint.

And you will know what to look out for when you write the songs and lyrics for your next album.

 

Get your Uniqueness Factor so that your fans will love your next album.

Stories in Songs

If you're interested to get this study done for your discography, I'm happy to do it for you.

I love storytelling. I am a certified story coach and consultant, and I love songs. Everything you've seen and read here is the combination of my passions put together: storytelling and songs.

And this is the system for analyzing songs that I have developed. 

I am glad that you are here and that you allowed me to share my unique approach to analyzing lyrics with you.

And if you'd love to discover your Uniqueness Factor, I can't wait to start this project with you.

If you want to know about all the other cool things this service includes, you find more information here:

The Full Analysis of your Discography

 

Here's what you get:

  1. A detailed analysis of all your previously released songs so that you’ll know what you're already doing great and where you can focus on improving.
  2. A professionally designed and extensive infographic visualizing the most important results so that you can clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of each album.
  3. The top 3 storytelling criteria that have the largest impact on the success of your albums so that you exactly know what your listeners expect to hear in your songs.
  4. A next-steps recommendation letter so that you'll know exactly what to focus on instead of worrying about what works best.
  5. A coaching call with me to discuss my evaluation and possibilities for the next album so that you’ll feel confident moving forward with your next project.
  6. Additional material and song recommendations personally curated specifically for you that will give you a deeper understanding of how songs in your area of storytelling work.
  7. And most importantly, you will know your band's Uniqueness Factor - and how to apply it in your songwriting so that you get more fans, reach higher album sales, and write engaging songs that truly make an impact on your listeners' lives.

 

And most importantly, you will know your band's Uniqueness Factor - and how to apply it in your songwriting so that you get more fans, reach higher album sales, and write engaging songs that truly make an impact on your listeners' lives.

 

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© Stories in Songs, Melanie Naumann



Links, Downloads & more

If you want to check out the lyrics to the songs mentioned or read my comments, you can them all on the website of songmeaning.com.

 

More about storytelling in songs

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Find out more about my current projects and song analysis here: Bands & Albums.

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If you want to work with me, create a concept album or write a song that tells a captivating story, send me an email:

write[at]storiesinsongs.com.

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